Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Hiking "The Notch" in the Uintas was a blast!

I got up early not really sure where I was going, only knowing that it would be from the Crystal Lake trailhead in the Uintas. I left home at around 5:37, having wanted to leave at 5:30. A problem ocurred in that my daughter's van had a light on inside, so I went back inside to find her keys, and then had to figure out how to turn off the lights--thus a few extra minutes.
As I headed down 47th South toward the freeway entrance, I got in the right lane. They have been doing road construction, building new on ramps for the past several months and they had actually placed the I-215 entrance sign in the road after the entrance, so I passed it. I was a bit ticked, because I was either going to do some elaborate turning around (I would have to do two U-turns because  the northbound ramp on the east side of the freeway was still totally closed), or I was going to have to drive all the way down to get on the freeway at I-15. Then I thought of a third alternative. I could drive down to 35th and get on there.
I was behind, but on the road, so all was good. About half way up Parley's Canyon I felt an urgent need to empty my bladder. I was hungry too, and so I thought I could wait until I got to the McDonald's at Kimball Junction (the Park City exit), then go in and get a couple of burritos and use their restroom. I got out at McDonald's, desperate by then, only to find their doors locked. I have no idea when they open their indoor seating, but it wasn't at six. I went through the drive through, ordered my burritos, and spied a gas station across the street. Taking another few minutes to use the restroom at the gas station, I finally got back on the road.
Between the exit from the freeway to Kamas I watched as the guy in front of me slammed on his brakes, and saw several shadows pass in front of him. Deer! It brought back memories of the times I had nearly hit one, and the time when my friend Dave Zobell did hit one over by Strawberry when we left on our after high school graduation trip. The guy ahead of me slowed up after that, and I didn't blame him. For years after that high school trip ended abruptly, I drove overly cautious in the dark when I was in deer crossing territory.
I finally made it to Kamas, and made sure that my camera was available. Numerous times I had been caught empty-handed when a huge deer or moose was crossing the road. I wanted to be prepared. There were a lot of cattle along the road and signs warning about them. I kept the speed lower than the speed limit and avoided the large blotches of manure--which reminded me of another trip to Colorado years previously when we had ended up following a large group of cows down the road on which they'd been herded. You've seen four-wheel drive vehicles that have been out having fun, coated in mud, right? Yeah, that's what happened with the manure.
Despite the cows, the views were spectacular
In a little over two hours from my starting time, I was up at the trailhead.
The Trial Lake turnoff road, that goes to the campground and Crystal Lake trailhead
There are several trails that begin in that parking lot. I had decided on the drive up that I would hike up to Wall Lake, which is only a mile from the parking lot, and then see what time I had left to do anything else. I had told Ann prior to leaving that my main goal was to have an outing and the hike was secondary, and that I wanted to take a lot of pictures.
The weather was partly cloudy and cold. I started out with my down coat on, and that worked just great for the first hour. All the small ponds were frozen over and several of the lakes I passed had a bit of ice in places around the edges. I didn't see any flowing streams, they were frozen too, but had thawed by the time I got back down.
In my case the best pics are taken when being ready, and getting lucky.
I took several pictures of the morning sky and then got lucky with a really good one. My last outing I had the settings wrong on my camera and couldn't tell because the sun was too bright too see the screen and be able to tell just what I was getting. This time, I got several really good shots, at least, I think I did.

Wall Lake. In '76 or '77 we camped just to the right of the cliffs you see on the far side.
When I got to Wall Lake, I remembered the time that I had camped there, just after Christimas in '76 or '77. I really can't remember. I was with Steve Jones, Joe Coombs, and a couple of Steve's friends, Scott Olsen and John Deford. It had been extremely cold and we had needed water and had tried blasting holes in the ice-covered lake with our shotguns that we had brought to hunt rabbits, but found out that shotguns don't work real well on ice that's a foot thick. Thankfully we had an axe. Joe ended up getting pneumonia on that trip and was coughing up blood on the trail down. He spent a bit of time in the hospital as I recall.
Looking up toward the Notch
I had some extra time when I got to Wall Lake so I decided to try for the Notch. I had been there once before, though never in winter. It got steeper and rockier, but it wasn't too bad and I made it easily in my time limit, took a few shots of the valley on the other side, and then got out of the cold wind and looked back the way I had come. No matter which direction I looked, it was all Beautiful!
Everywhere I looked...Beautiful!

Looking down on the other side of the Notch. Lovenia Lake in the foreground.

Looking back the way I had come.
I tried to  get a drink out of my water hose and it had frozen. I stuck the hose inside my jacket (I had abandoned the down coat to the recesses of my backpack as it got warmer) hoping it would thaw, and it did.
I took this pic of the trail sign on the way down.
When I got back to Wall, I saw another trail that I thought connected to the one I came up on (because I had seen one splitting off of the original trail on the way up), and it was heading down, toward Trial Lake which is near the trailhead. I decided to take it. I was up for an adventure. It ended up being longer and rockier than the trail I had come up on, and never joined that trail. I ended up at The dam at Trial Lake and I had a walk up the road to the Crystal Lake parking lot. I measured later and besides the extra length of the trail itself, my walk along the road was .9 miles. I would advise anyone camping at Trial or in the vicinity and wanting to hike to Wall, to drive up to the trailhead instead of taking the trail from the Trial Lake dam.
I like selfies better when it's not just "self".
Once I was back in the parking lot, I took my traditional selfie, and headed home. Just outside the Trial Lake turnoff was a group of people on cross-country skis with wheels. Those skis probably have a name. I don't know it. Then I took several pics of the fall colors on the trip down.
I couldn't resist this picture of the fall colors from Spring Canyon Road.
The fall colors had been hard to come by up near the Notch, but there was still this little patch hanging on.
Only one more incident ocurred and that was on the free way, when a woman tried to come into my lane. The only problem was, I was in the spot in that lane that she tried to get into. I had to slam on my brakes to keep from hitting her and likely, someone behind me had to do the same.
The moral of that story is you can be in just as much danger on the roads as you can hiking in the wilderness, and it's not nearly as fun of an adventure.

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